Run for the Cup!

Run for the Cup! lesson plan

Head for Australia to stage your own Melbourne Cup! Make thoroughbred fun with a racing board game.

  • 1.

    <STRONG>What’s the Melbourne Cup?</STRONG> Although they may live thousands of miles from Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Australians enjoy the annual Melbourne Cup horserace on the first Tuesday in November. The race is 3200 metres (1.9 miles long), so every second counts and every move is important. Horses "jockey" for a position close to the inside. Why do you suppose this makes a difference? Try running in a circle with classmates to find out. Keep this idea in mind as your small group designs a board game.

  • 2.

    Create horses and jockeys. Form Crayola Dough or Model Magic® into miniature thoroughbred horses. Sculpt jockeys on their backs. Air-dry them.

  • 3.

    <STRONG>Build a racetrack.</STRONG> Cut a large circle gameboard from light cardboard with Crayola Scissors. Cut out an inside ring. Save it for the game spinner. Think about the rules and method of play for your game. With Crayola Twistables® and Markers, draw your racetrack with a starting gate, finish line, and instructions on different spaces. Figure out a way for game pieces to move from the outside track to the inside track.

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Make a spinner</STRONG>. Use Twistables to divide the cardboard circle into pie-shaped wedges. Write numbers or directions in each wedge. Cut a straight edge at the end of each wedge so that the circle will land flat. Poke a Crayola Erasable Colored Pencil through the center of the circle and twist for each turn. "The horses are on the track!"


  • Students gather information about the Melbourne Cup horse race in Australia. 
  • Students study the geometry and physics behind the design of a racetrack.
  • Students work in small groups to problem solve and design their own board games using their findings about racetracks.


  • Learn more about Australia and why this race is such a big event. What horse races are big in your country? Why?
  • As a group, come up with a list of words and expressions associated with racetracks that we use in everyday: "inside track," "jockeying for position," and "photo finish." Study the definitions and meanings as well as their roots.
  • Older students study the statistical system used to establish odds for horses to win. Design your own statistical odds for different things and events.
  • Assessment: Students demonstrate how their games are played, including showing how horses can change lanes during the race.